I arrived a little late to the Elizabeth Gilbert party. The popular author is best known for her 2006 memoir Eat, Pray, Love. While I have not yet read that book nor seen the movie, I did recently come across one of her later works, “Big Magic“, and was instantly inspired. For those who are in the dark as I was, Big Magic is a self-help book of sorts, but not in the way you typically think. Its only goal here is to encourage you to live a brighter, more joyful, colorful, fuller and happier life by simply embracing the creativity that exists inside us all.
Gilbert describes ideas as if they are living entities floating through the universe looking for a home where they can be nurtured to their fullest potential. The thrilling journey of receiving an idea and being open and brave enough to follow it through to its unknowable end is what Gilbert calls “big magic”.
Creating House of Wend has been such an exciting endeavor. In the beginning, everything was new, ideas kept pouring in, I would wake up in the middle of the night to jot things down and much of my free time was happily spent building this space. As time has passed, I have settled into more of a routine, dug in to the work of maintaining the site and have had to deal with inevitable setbacks, self-doubt and frustrations that come with running a travel blog.
Feeling discouraged and overwhelmed recently caused me to take a hiatus both from blogging and social media. I let the voice of doubt that said “this isn’t going anywhere, no one is reading, no one cares and it’s all just silly” take over. I was so overcome with negativity that I even put a related project that had once really excited me on the back burner. But even in my time away I was still visited by ideas and a quitter, but encouraging voice that said, don’t give up.
Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, served as a much needed reminder to stop overthinking and get back to work- start writing again, start photographing again, start sharing again, start creating again, just start!. That boost of encouragement couldn’t have come at a better time. I visited the South of Spain for my birthday and was flooded with inspiration. I returned to social media, set a post schedule for my blog that I actually stuck to, and revisited my side project and managed to bring it to fruition.
For those who haven’t read the book, or if you’re a creative needing a bit of an inspirational boost, I’ve gleaned some quotes and excerpts that I found particularly meaningful. Whether you are a blogger or not, whether you are actively pursuing a creative endeavor right now or not, I hope these words will inspire you to continue pursuing your curiosity and creativity. However that manifests in your life, I hope you’ll be brave enough to follow your creativity wherever it may lead! Below are some “Big Magic” quotes that will hopefully inspire you to live your most creative year.
ON CREATIVE LIVING:
- “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all and then stands back to see if we can ever find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels, that’s creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place, that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one. The often surprising results of that hunt, that’s big magic. Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are living inside you?”
- “The paths and outcomes of creative living will vary wildly from person to person. But I can guarantee you this, a creative life is an amplified life, it’s a bigger life a happier life an expanded life and a hell of a lot more interesting life.”
- ”Inspiration is always trying to work with you. Trust it and it will trust you. The work wants to get made and it wants to be made through you.”
ON GETTING STARTED:
- “Your life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous and you should do really interesting things and make interesting things while you’re still here. You have treasures hidden within you and so do I and so does everyone and bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion and the clock is ticking and the world is spinning and we simply do not have time to think so small.”
- “When you grow curious about things, pursue them. Have a solid faith in your own capabilities. Spend as much time as you can creating delightful things.”
- “You already are a creative person. Creativity is the hallmark of our species, we have the senses for it, we have the curiosity for it, we have the opposable thumbs for it, we have the rhythm for it we have the language and the excitement and the innate connection to divinity for it. If you are alive you are a creative person. So, get going dear one!”
- “Defending yourself as a creative person begins by declaring your intent. It serves just as much of an announcement to yourself as it does to the universe. Your soul has been waiting for you to wake up to your own existence for years. This proclamation is something you must make daily, forever.”
ON ENJOYING THE PROCESS:
- “You are not required to save the world with your creativity. Your art not only doesn’t have to be original it also doesn’t have to be important. Make your work for your own purposes and pleasure. If your work ends up helping others, that’s great.”
- “Do whatever brings you to life. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions and compulsions, trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart. The rest will take care of itself.”
- “By saying you delight in your work, you will draw inspiration near. Inspiration will overhear your pleasure and send ideas to your door as a reward for your enthusiasm and loyalty…more ideas than you could ever use…enough ideas for 10 lifetimes.”
- “Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living and it is accessible to everyone. Following the scavenger hunt of curiosity can lead you to amazing unexpected places and may even eventually lead you to your passion. Or it may lead you nowhere and you may have nothing to show for it in the end except knowing you passed your entire existence in devotion to the noble human virtue of inquisitiveness, and that should be more than enough for anyone to say that they lived a rich and splendid life.”
- “Every single pursuit comes with its own lousy side effects. The question is not so much what are you passionate about, the question is what are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work.”
- “Don’t sit around waiting for passion to strike you. Keep working steadily and trust that creativity is always trying to find you even when you have lost sight of it.”
- “When feeling sluggish and useless and as though your creativity is hiding from you, dress for your creativity. Seduce the big magic and it will always come back to you.”
- “Sneak off and have an affair with your most creative self. Go off to dance alone with your ideas in the dark. Don’t think of it all as burdensome, think of it all as sexy.”
ON MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE:
- “Never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing or even their comprehension in order to make your own creative work. Always remember that people’s judgments about you are none of your business.”
- “Your creative expression must be the most important thing in the world to you if you are to live artistically and it also must not matter at all if you are to live sanely.”
- “What you produce isn’t always sacred. What is sacred is the time that you spend working on the project and what that time does to expand your imagination and what that expanded imagination does to transform your life. The more lightly you can pass that time, the brighter your existence becomes.”
- “Creative work is not your baby. If anything you’re its baby. Be willing to be light with your work. Be careful of your dignity, it is not always your friend.”
ON TEMPERING EXPECTATIONS:
- “There may be seasons when you can live off your art and season when you cannot. This need not be regarded as a crisis, it’s only natural in the flux of a creative life. Don’t count on the payoff. Such payoffs are rare and you may very well kill off your creativity by holding it to such an ultimatum.”
- “Live a life driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear. You need your fear to protect you from actual dangers, but you do not need your fear in the realm of creative expression. Fear where our dreams go to desecrate in the desolate bone yard. Fear is boring”
- “Live the most vividly decorated temporary life that you can. Not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. Don’t be afraid of bright colors or new sounds or big love or risky decisions or strange experiences or weird endeavors or sudden changes or even failure.”
- “Forget about perfect. You don’t have time for perfect. It’s a myth and a trap and a hamster wheel that will run you to death. Perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified. Underneath that shiny veneer is just the deep existential angst that says again and again, ‘I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.’ At some point you have to just finish your work and release it as it is if only so that you can go on to make other things with a glad and determined heart, which is the point, or at least it should be.”
ON SELF DOUBT:
- “Uncertainty is what you sign up for when you say you want to live a creative life. Hard work guarantees nothing in the realm of creativity. Do what you love to do and do it both with seriousness and lightness. At least then you will know that you have tried and whatever the outcome you will know you have traveled a noble path.”
- “Failure has a function- it forces you to answer whether you truly want to go on making things.”
- “You will fail. Do not let your ego totally run the show or it will shut down the show. All it wants is reward and it is never satisfied. Forget about the last project and go searching with an open heart for the next one.”
- “What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail? What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?”
- “Whatever it is you are pursuing, whatever it is you are seeking, whatever it is you are creating, be careful not to quit too soon. Don’t let go of your courage the moment things stop being easy or rewarding because that moment, that’s the moment when interesting begins.”
- “Next, next, next always next. Keep moving, keep going, keep creating. Whatever you do try not to dwell too long on your failures. Don’t conduct autopsies on your disasters, you don’t need to know what anything means. Own your disappointment, acknowledge it for what it is and move on.”
- “Keep making your work regardless of the outcome. Keep sharing your work regardless of the outcome. You were born to create regardless of the outcome. You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome.”
A PLACE OF YES:
- “Say yes to every single tiny clue of curiosity that you notice around you. That’s big magic too. It’s big magic on a quieter scale and on a slower scale, you just have to learn how to trust it. It’s all about the yes.”
- “When an idea comes to you, you can chose to say no or you can chose to say yes. One way to say yes: I shall destroy myself and everyone around me in an effort to bring forth my inspiration and my martyrdom shall be the badge of my creative legitimacy aka the tormented artist. Or you can say yes a different way: cooperate fully, joyfully and humbly with inspiration. Measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by successes or failures. Live a long life making and doing really cool things the entire time. At the end of your days you can thank creativity for having blessed you with a charmed interesting passionate existence. That’s the other way to do it. The choice is up to you.”
- “Creativity is sacred and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously and it does not matter at all. We toil alone and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all of these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul and you can make anything. Calm down and get back to work…the treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say YES!”
I hope you found some of these snippets as helpful and encouraging as I did. What creative endeavors are you looking forward to pursuing this year? Share your comments below. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!